Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Unicoi Outfitters Fishing Report - 6/21/24

Greetings from the Topton post office, where there are enough bars to send this report.  Our hot and dry days continue, so our best bets remain headwater wild trout, high elevation stockers, icy tailwater trout, bass and stripers in clearing rivers, and pond bass and bream at dawn and dusk.  Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug repellent.

Check out the detailed fishing intel and more pics in our full report here:


(Link in bio)

Fish early, late, and in the shade for more cooperative fish and more comfortable conditions for yourselves.  Stop in either UO shop (Helen, Clarkesville) for some hot summer bugs.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


Wes’ Hot Fly List:  

Dries: tiny chubby Chernobyl, small yellow stimulator, 409 Yager yellow, parachute Adams, tan elk hair caddis, parachute black ant.

Nymphs & Wets: 

Small pats rubberlegs, gold ribbed hares ear, pheasant tail nymph and soft hackle, drowned  ant, green weenie.

Streamers & warm water:

(Trout) Squirrely bugger, sparkle minnow, and mini shimmer buggers for stockers. (bass & stripers) polar changer, stealth jig, wiggle minnow, craw changer, boogle bug popper, Kent’s stealth bomber.

(Panfish) amnesia bug, small chubby Chernobyl, bluegill spider, dry and wet ants

(Carp) Gorgan craw, squirmy hybrid. 


They’re low and clear but still very fishable, especially in the mornings At 8AM today Spoilcane was 62F 

and on the north side, the Hiwassee headwaters were 57F.  I just made it up here to Nan DH at 10AM and it registered 60F.

These high elevation streams are still fishing really well, especially before lunch.  Stealth and small, fluffy dries will get you plenty of rises from little wild trout. On bigger waters, fish will start hunkering down as the sun rises to avoid predators. Try a small (#16-18) dropper bug on two feet of 6x tippet behind a buoyant dry, a strike indicator with a hook in it. Small pheasant tails, black fur ants, hares ears, and green weenies are our summer favorites. Add a tiny #6 or 8 dinsmore tin shot four inches ahead of the dropper if it’s not sinking well on its own. Be ready for lightning-quick strikes.

UGA 5Rivers fanatic Coop hit a GA headwater stream with a new fishing friend in tow. He said: “Great day! Multiple flies were tried, but at the end of the day the winning combo was a yellow stimmy with a hares ear dropped underneath!”

Stocked Waters:

They will still fish well for both bait and fly anglers. Head toward higher elevation streams and hit them in the mornings. Walk 200 yards downstream from each bridge crossing and pick the pockets for all of the stocker wash-downs that most anglers have passed over.

Take advantage of the stocking program before it cuts back on weekly stocking numbers, by design, after July 4th.  Sign up for GA’s weekly stocking list, fresh every Friday, if you haven’t already. Find it here:


Athens Jay reported: “Fished a double-dry rig on two north Georgia streams this week. Water was low and clear in both. I didn't see many bugs, and very few fish rising. I probably got more takes on the little parachute Adams, but I could see the yellow Stimulator much better. The by-catch was an added bonus. “


UO buddy Lumis: “Decided to try the Hooch Tailwater once again, and managed to get 5 or 6 fish in about 3 hours. All rainbows. Did not managed to catch any of those wild browns. Wind was blowing pretty hard so I had to throw an indicator on the euro rod and fish like that all day. Overall, pretty decent day considering how unfamiliar I am with the water.”

Private Waters: 

Just about all waters managed by south slope private operators are shut down for the summer to protect their heat-stressed trout. North slope streams are still cold enough to fish. Athens Jay took advantage of his gifted trip to Noontootla Creek Farms and shared these pics.


I’m compiling today’s report from the banks of Nan DH, where I met two buddies this morning.  Rabunite Bluejay and his son Matt are scoring by hi-sticking their dry/dropper rigs in pockets and shallow pools. 

Dries are fluffy, buoyant attractors: yellow stimmy and tiny tan chubby Chernobyl.  Droppers are #16 fur ants and #18 hares ears and pheasant tails. Stockers and wild fish are hitting both. Most wild fish landed have been on the smaller dropper fly.

Rabunites Rick and Nan hit Nan DH earlier in the week.  They landed a few fish each on dry/dropper rigs and they were all stockers. Nan said they had a ton of refusals. She suggested that folks oughta try some smaller dropper nymphs than the size 16’s they were throwing. She reported: “Slow day on the Nan but we caught a few on dry-dropper combos. Fish very picky, many refusals. Had success with a #14 chubby Chernobyl and #16 light Cahill, plus pheasant tail and prince nymphs. Rick caught the best fish, I caught the most. Everybody happy!”

Her fellow GA Women Flyfishers member, Nita, was up there the same day and shared this report:

“Got a slam while euronymphing! Still getting the hang of it....but really like it when conditions are right!

I had been euronymphing. But wanted to fish soft slower shaded edges that were under low hanging trees. Switched to small white indicator setup with green weenie and 0.6g split shot and cast upstream of overhanging trees allowing rig to drift. Fish was holding in 2 ft of water in the shade under low hanging trees.”

Warm Rivers:

Area rivers are clear from the lack of rainfall and warming up with these hot days.  The bass and bream action should start heating up, as well. Try some popper/dropper combos for both. Also strip some bigger streamers for the bass and maybe a bonus striper.

Stripers have once again camped out at Nacoochee Bend for the summer.  Feel free to call our Helen shop (706-878-3083) if you want to book an opportunity to wade out and catch one on the fly. They’re tough, so you must hit them when they can’t scrutinize your fly. That means dawn, dusk, and in stained water after a storm.

Dredger saw consistent low flows on the USGS gauges and decided to head north of the border yesterday for his first dose of river smallie action.  

It was slow, with only two bass and two rock bass landed during late afternoon. Bugs were a black woolly bomber and a chartreuse bunny clouser. He has high hopes for good dark-30 action, but it didn’t happen in his favorite pool. Only one 12-incher inhaled his white stealth bomber and spit it back at him on its first leap. It was still a nice trip to kick off his 2024 river bass season.


Small lakes are still fishing well. It’s a fine time to paddle around their perimeters at dawn or dusk and toss poppers toward the bank. There are plenty of local opportunities for yakkers and canoeists to capitalize on this summer flyfishing action. Stop in the shop for some intel - and maybe a new Feelfree kayak.

UO guide Caleb:

“Pond hopping proved to be very effective while out-of-state last visiting my family week. Black finesse changers for bass and solar flare amnesia bugs for bluegill were the hot flies.”

UO buddy Athens Jay:  “Last Saturday, 28 volunteers helped with an afternoon of fishing and environmental education at the Steve Harvey Boys Mentoring Camp at Legacy Ranch in The Rock, GA. We had volunteers from UGA Warnell, Georgia Department of Natural Resources WRD, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Oxbow Meadows Enviornmental Education Center, Atlanta Fly Fishing Club, and several family and friends. Temperatures reached above 95F, but the campers and the volunteers all had a good time. The young men attending the camp are between the ages of 14-18 and are being raised in a single female-headed household. Most had never been fishing before. Besides fishing, they participated in a lot of different activities including interactive programs that focus on personal responsibility and careers.”


UO buddy AJ: “Got invited to fish with Falcon's Nate Landman on Saturday. We started out fishing marina walls early and moved a few bass and landed one. Left there and chased some schooling topwater spots with sebiles. They were up and down fast and you really had to put it on their head. Nate got a few and I hooked 2 and landed 1. Moved to a long point and managed 1 more good fish throwing an Ima Skimmer. Headed back to the dock at 9:30. Lake was crowded at first light and a madhouse by 9:00 am!”

The weather is hot and so is the fishing, IF you choose your times and places carefully. Hopefully our intel will help you in that regard. Special thanks to our UO staff and fishing friends for their shared intel each week. Their benevolence makes these reports so timely and valuable for the rest of us.  Use this intel to make your own trips even more successful. Good luck dodging the sun’s rays and connecting with some good fish in the shadows this week. Stop in either UO shop for more flies, supplies, and advice.

Unicoi Outfitters: Friendly. Local. Experts.


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